ILVA steel mill chief says Italy court ruling threatens jobs

Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:22pm EDT
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MILAN (Reuters) - The jobs of thousands of workers at ILVA, Europe's biggest steel plant, are at risk if the factory in southern Italy has to stop production as ordered on Friday by an Italian judge, ILVA Chairman Bruno Ferrante said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.

"I don't even want to pronounce that word (layoffs) ... But if they block production here, the outlook gets more complicated not just for the almost 12,000 employees, but also for the whole supply chain," Ferrante said in an interview with Italian newspaper la Stampa.

On Saturday, Ferrante said he would appeal a ruling by preliminary court judge Patrizia Todisco saying the factory must not produce steel while it makes court-ordered improvements to its production line.

At the request of prosecutors in Taranto, Todisco had originally ordered the factory's partial closure last month because of concerns that pollution was harming the health of the workers and local residents.

But an appeals court ruled last week that ILVA could remain open as it upgraded its production line to meet regulatory standards, a decision the company interpreted as a green light for continued steel production.

The appeals court also named Ferrante a court administrator of the factory.

But in what looks increasingly like a rift within the Taranto courthouse, Todisco on Saturday said Ferrante was not among the pool of administrators and reappointed Mario Tagarelli, who had been excluded by the appeals court, a judicial source said.

"The closure and turning off of the plant must be avoided at all costs, something that would cause irreparable damage. Nothing will be left untried," newswire ANSA reported Italy's Industry Minister Corrado Passera as saying on Sunday.

Passera said Environment Minister Corrado Clini and Justice Minister Paola Severino were also dealing with the matter, keeping Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti constantly briefed.   Continued...